Sunday, June 30, 2019

Vegas Poker Scene—July 2019

Here's my latest column for Ante Up (or the version I submitted).  You can find it in your local poker room.  Enjoy!  Note:  At the bottom be sure to check out the profile I did of Santa Fe Station poker room manager Wally Womer.

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Let's take a look at some of the regular tournaments around Vegas.

MGM: There are four tournaments daily.  At 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., a $100 tournament is offered.  Players get a 25K stack and play 20-minute levels.  The morning version has a $2K guarantee and the evening tournament has a $1K guarantee.
A $65 turbo runs at 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.  Players get 15K in chips and play 15-minute levels. Both of these have $500 guarantees.

STRATOSPHERE: Wednesdays at 7 p.m. there's a $100 bounty tournament.  The starting stack is 10K and the levels are 20-minutes. The bounties are worth $25. The rest of the week a $75 is offered at the same time, also with a 10K stack and 20-minute levels.  The same $75 tournament is offered Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  For all tournaments, players get an extra 1K in chips for registering at least 15 minutes before the start, and free pizza is served at the first break.

EXCALIBUR:  There are four daily tournaments.  The 9 a.m. tournament is a $40 buy-in. At 1 p.m. there's a $50 bounty ($10 bounties).  At 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. the tournament is a $45 buy-in.  All these tournaments have a 5K starting stack and play 15-minute levels.

MANDALAY BAY:  The room offers $65 tournaments three times a day, at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. The starting stack is 10K and the levels are 15-minutes.

ARIA: Monday through Thursday a $140 tournament runs at 1 p.m.  Players start with 12K in chips and play 30 minute levels.  Friday through Sunday the daytime tournament runs at 11 a.m. and has a $240 buy-in. The starting stack is 20K and there are 30-minute levels.
The 7 p.m. tournament that runs Monday through Thursday is identical to the $140 daytime event.  Friday through Sunday at 7 p.m. the buy-in is $140, the starting stack is 20K and the levels are 20-minutes.

GOLDEN NUGGET:   A $70 tournament runs Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and daily at 3 p.m.  The starting stack is 10K and the levels are 20-minutes.  Sunday at 11 a.m. a $125 tournament is offered.  This one has a $5K guarantee.  Players start with 15K chips and play 20-minute levels for the first eight levels and 30-minute levels thereafter.
A $50 tournament runs daily at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. The starting stack is 5K and the levels are 20-minutes.

SANTA FE STATION:  The $45 NLH tournament runs twice a day.  It runs daily at 12 p.m. and Sunday through Thursday at 7 p.m.  On Friday and Saturday the start time is 6 p.m.  Players start with a 4K stack, with an optional $5 dealer add-on for 2K extra chips.  There is a single $20 rebuy for 4K chips available any time during the first three levels.  For the last Friday of the month, the regular evening tournament is replaced by $200 buy-in with a 15K starting stack and 30-minute levels.  All of these tournaments offer a 500 chip bonus for registering at least an hour before the starting time.  A tournament bad beat jackpot is offered.

Every Thursday at 10 a.m. an Omaha 8 tournament runs.  Players start with 6K chips and a $20 rebuy for 4K chips is available for the first four levels, which are all 20-minutes.

BELLAGIO:  A $130 NLH tournament runs daily at 2 p.m.  The starting stack is 15K and the levels are 30-minutes.

WYNN:  Monday through Thursday it's a $140 buy-in with 15K chips and 30-minute levels.  The guarantee is $5K.  Fridays and Sundays the buy-in is $200 for 15K chips and 30-minute levels. This one has a $10K guarantee.  The very popular Saturday tournament has a $230 buy-in for the 15K stack but it has 40-minute levels.  Through the first six levels, players may take unlimited $200 rebuys for 15K chips.  There is also a single $100 add-on for 7,500 chips available any time for the first six levels. This tournament plays long so there is a 45-minute dinner break after the 9th level. All of the Wynn tournaments start at Noon.

RED ROCK:    Tournaments run daily at Noon and Sunday through Friday at 6:30 p.m.  Monday through Friday the Noon tournament has a $60 buy-in, a 6K starting stack and 20-minute levels. The guarantee is $1K. Saturday a $200 bounty tournament runs with 10K chips, 20-minute levels and a $2K guarantee. The bounty is $25. Sunday the $125 tournament has 30-minute levels and a 13K starting stack. The guaranteed prize pool is $2,500.

Monday and Thursday evenings a $125 bounty runs, with $25 bounties, a $10K starting stack and  20-minute levels. The guarantee is $3,500. Tuesdays and Wednesdays it's a $60 tournament with 6K chips, 20-minute levels and a $1K guarantee. Fridays a $150 bounty is offered, with $50 bounties, a 13K starting stack, 20-minute levels, a $4,500 guarantee. Sunday the tournament is $60, 7K chips, 20-minute levels and a $1,500 guarantee.
All these tournaments have a $10 dealer-add-on for 2K chips and offer high hand bonuses.

VENETIAN: Eric Baldwin of Las Vegas won the $400 MonsterStack at the May Deepstack Showdown on May 5, earning $31K for his efforts.  Asa Goldstein of Seattle earned $27K for second and Minh Nguyen of Vegas claimed $26K for third.  The event attracted 666 players resulting in a prize pool of $223K.

The next Deepstack Showdown runs August 5 – 8, offering over $600K in guaranteed prize pools. The biggest event is a five-starting flight $400 DoubleStack event that begins on August 13. It has a $250K guarantee. Players start with 25K chips and play 30-minute levels on day 1, increasing to 40-minutes on day 2.

A two-starting flight $340 DoubleStack starts on August 6 and has a $100K guarantee.  Players start with a 25K stack and play 40-minute levels.

CAESARS PALACE:  John Martin has been named the new poker room manager.  He's worked in the poker room for four years..

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Meet Wally Womer:

Wally Womer has managed the poker room at Santa Fe Station for the past five years.

How did you get started in poker? My grandmother taught me how to play poker when I was just a kid. She made sure I understood when you lost, you lose, you do not get the money back until you win. It took me a few years to finally beat her. But I was hooked. I played professionally for about 10 years. 

Why should people play at Santa Fe Station? Santa Fe has a wide range of poker. We usually have four different games ($1-$2 no-limit, $2-$4 limit, $4-$8 limit and $3-$6 Omaha/8) going most of the time. We also run two tournaments daily (noon and 7 p.m., but 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). We also have an Omaha/8 tournament every Thursday at 10 a.m. We have a progressive high hand that runs almost every day, starts at $50 and increases by $50 every hour that it does not hit. 

What do you do in your free time? I like to go to the park with my granddaughter, who just likes to go outside and have fun in the fresh air

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Did I Stop an Angle Shoot or Walk Right Into One?

This session dates back to my ill-fated Christmas trip to Vegas.  It was the night before I headed home.  Well, it was the night before I made my first attempt to head home. As you might recall, that particular attempt ended with me spending the night at Buffalo Bill's in glamorous  Primm, NV. If you've forgotten, you refresh your memory with the post here.

It was a Friday night, and I figured for all the car troubles I was having, I deserved something nice in return.  You know, watching the parade de Sluts  seemed to fit the bill. Since my plan at the time was to be back home the next evening (Ha!), I figured this was my last chance to enjoy the unique eye candy offered as a free bonus to the increasingly put upon poker player in Vegas.  So, MGM it was.

The first table I was sent to was awful.  First of all, it was in the spot in the room that is always the coldest.  And the table was incredibly nitty.  I got a few hands to raise with and never got a call, including once with Aces.  But the table got short-handed almost immediately and I couldn't get a table change.

Finally I got pocket Aces for a second time.  I opened to $10 and kind of assumed that the way the table was running, I'd just pick up the blinds again.  But instead, a guy re-raised to $30.  Cool.  I made it $80, which was more than he had left, but not by a lot.  He tanked a bit and then shoved. Of course I called.

We didn't show.  I didn't like the King on the flop.  The rest of the board was fairly non-descript.  He showed Queens, and I took down a nice pot.

Soon after, another few players left the game and the table broke.  That was fine with me, I got a seat in a table in the front of the room, which was much more comfortable, temperature-wise, and also closer to the walkway where the club-goers would be passing by.  Unfortunately, my seat was facing away from the parade, but I figured I'd be able to get a seat change at some point.

I was card dead at the new table and there was only slightly better action there anyway.  There were couple of regs there talking about getting their final hours in for the "Play for Pay" promo they had going (and still do). If you play enough hours during the month, they just give you cash (instead of having a freeroll).  This guy next to me, an older Asian man, just needed a few more hours to make his next tier for the month.  Since he was a reg, it was surprising I didn't recognize him, though I suppose he might usually play different hours and was just there this time to finish up his hours.

Anyway, I got Jack-9 off in the big blind and of course no one rasied, so I saw the flop for free.  There were a bunch of limpers, maybe 7 or 8.  The flop was Jack-6-2.  I checked and someone bet $17.  I called and it was heads up.  The turn was a 9.  I checked again, thinking about a check-raise.  But when he bet $40, I wondered if he had a set, so I just called.  The river was another Jack.  I glanced over at him and he seemed eager to bet, so I checked.  He did bet, but only $45.  So I made it $100 and he shoved.  I had him covered but not by much.  Of course I called and he turned over Jack-6.  Ouch.  Sucks to be him.

Well that was a nice pot.  I was still stacking my chips as the next hand was dealt.  I was now the small blind. And I looked down at pocket Kings.  I went back to stacking chips as the action went around the table.  After a limp or two, it got to my neighbor, the Asian man, who said to me, "It's ok, I know you're gonna raise, I'll raise first."  Huh?  How did he know I was going to raise?  I looked at him quizzically, He continued, "I saw you grabbing red chips."  Well, I was grabbing red chips to stack them, I hadn't finished that yet.  Did he see that or had I somehow actually given off a sign that I planned to raise?

The comment threw me off.  Of course, I do normally three-bet with the dreaded hand, fool that I am.  But I was now thinking he was pulling some kind of angle.  I mean, if he knew I was gonna raise, why would he raise anyway unless he had a really premium hand, you know, like Aces?  More importantly, why would he tell me?  It seemed to me he was basically begging me to re-raise him and so I decided to ruin his angle-shooting by just calling.  When I just called, he said, "I thought you were going to raise."  I just shrugged.  After the hand was over, I told him I just was grabbing chips to stack them and I have no idea if he believed me.

Anyway, it turned out to be four of us seeing a low flop. I checked and it checked around.  Hmm….he didn't bet with his Aces?  The turn looked harmless enough so I bet $35 and no one called.

That was just weird.  If I take him at his word, why would he raise if he thought I was going to re-raise behind him?  Obviously he might do that with Aces and then four-bet me.  But if he had Ace-King or Queens or Jacks, why would he want raise in front of me thinking I was going to re-raise?

Then I started thinking maybe I didn't stop him from playing an angle, maybe I played right into it.  But saying what he did, he got me to not re-raise.  Was that his intention all along?  Maybe I was the sucker.  I could have gotten more money out of him with a three-bet.  He'd probably call my three bet with whatever he had and at least see if he improved on the flop.  So did he figure out a way to see the flop cheaper than he would have otherwise?  Did I play right into his hand?

Well, I'll never know.  I guess he had Ace-King, Ace-Queen something like that and whiffed the flop.  What is scary to think about is that maybe he had Queens or Jacks and somehow read me as having Kings or Aces.  If he had a big pair he had no reason to fold on the turn—or check the flop, for that matter.  It was weird.  Did I give off tell or just get angled?

Anyway, I was mostly card-dead and was able to book a nice $175 win for the session.  I never got the seat change so I wandered around the club area and saw some provocatively dressed young ladies.  It was a good night but you already know the next day turned out to be a total disaster.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Five Dollar Bad Beat

My recent session in Ventura started with a bad beat.  But not the usual kind.  I was out $5 before I even got into the game.  Or should I say, the right game.

I arrived in the room around the usual time and went over to the podium to get my name on the list for the 2/3 game.  By this time the gentleman who mans the podium knows me on sight.  Although it was right after he made the effort to memorize my name that I confused him by switching over to the 2/3 game from the 1/2 game.

There were a few names ahead of me so I took a seat at an empty table to wait.  After awhile, he called me to a game, sold me some chips and pointed me to the empty seat.  It was a table I'd played at before.  Generally speaking, they use one side of the room for the 2/3 games and the other side of the room for the 1/2 games.  The 3/5 game (or bigger, if spread) are on the same side as the 2/3 games and the non-hold'em games (sometimes PLO, sometimes Big O) usually are on the side with the 1/2 games, but it varies.

I was three spots from the big blind so I took a hand right away, I took a couple of more and then I was the big blind.  I had only three stacks of yellow, so I put out a single yellow chip for my $3 big blind.  Oh yes, for some reason in the L.A. area the $5 chips are yellow not red.  I haven't heard anybody refer to them as yellowbirds but I suppose you could.  Now in the few hands I'd been dealt, I folded every time.  I had noticed some fairly large raises, $20, $25. I was beginning to think that this was going to be an expensive game to see a flop. Although one time, I folded junk and everyone else folded and they chopped the blinds.  This time, in the blind, I got another junk hand and after someone made it $25 and there were a couple of calls, I again folded.  The dealer collected the bets, including my $5 chip,  I waited for my $2 change but the dealer went ahead and put out the flop.  So I said to him, "I didn't get my change."

The dealer said, "It's five dollars."  I dunno why, but the way he said it, or the way I heard it, it sounded like he was saying that the first blind a player posts was $5, which would have been a new rule I've never heard of.  He could see by the look on my face I was confused.  So he said, "The blinds are 3/5, sir."  I still wasn't getting it.  For a nano-second I was thinking the blinds in the 2/3 game were now 3/5, which also made no sense.  But then the dealer said, "Did you want to the 2/3 game? We can get you a table change."  So I said, "I asked for the 2/3 game."  The dealer immediately called the podium guy over and told him I was looking for 2/3.

He apologized. "I'm sorry, Rob I forgot that this game was 3/5.  That's usually a 2/3 table."  By this time I was already re-racking my chips and standing up.  As luck would have it, at that moment a seat opened up at the table right next to that one, which was an actual 2/3 game.  I grabbed that seat—but what about my $5 blind that I thought was a $3 blind?

I'd been sent to the wrong game, a game that I no intention of playing or staying at.  It wasn't my fault.  I swear there was no obvious evidence of the game being a 3/5 game until I didn't get change back for my blind. But my $5 was now in the pot of the game I was leaving.  Couldn't they just take it out of the pot and return it to me?  The pot was well over $75, they wouldn’t miss it.

Of course, they couldn't do that and I would never ask.  If they returned my $5, it would mean there was no hand for the big blind, and thus a misdeal, and with all that betting action it was too late for a misdeal.  Besides, what if I had been dealt pocket Aces that hand?  I would have raised (or three-bet) before I even knew it was a 3/5 game and by then, it wouldn't have much mattered.  You can't get your money back only if you don't like your hand.

I did consider what would have happened if that particular hand resulted in the bad beat jackpot being hit. Well, for sure I would be eligible for a table share, since my blind was in the pot and I did get a hand.  Of course, that didn't happen.

I didn't say anything to the guy who sent me to the wrong seat and I don't think he even knew I had found out I was at the wrong table by losing a blind.  He probably would have apologized even more profusely.  Maybe he would have offered me a $5 refund?  Either at the house's expense (doubtful) or out of his own pocket?  I wouldn't object to having the house reimburse me, but I sure wouldn't want the podium guy to pay me out of his pocket.  That wouldn't be right.  So of course I said nothing and just ate the $5.  It's not a big deal and the story is worth at least five bucks, isn't it?

Well, if my day in Ventura got off to a bad start, it ended well.  Very well. 

The first pot I won was a small one.  I had Ace-10 in the small blind, no raise so I added a buck and saw a flop of 10-9-7.  It was four-ways, and I checked and then called a $10 bet.  It was now heads up.  The turn was an 8 and we both checked.  The river was a deuce and again we both checked.  He had a weaker 10.

I limped in with pocket 4's and only 8 of us saw the flop.  It was Jack-5-4.  I bet $15 and just four players called.  The turn was a Jack, filling me up.  This time I bet $70 and didn't get any takers.

In the small blind with Jack-8, there were four limpers in front of me so I added a buck to complete.  The big blind checked behind and six of us saw a flop of Jack-9-3.  I checked and called $11, only one player dropped out.  The turn was an 8 and I checked again hoping to check-raise, but it checked around.  The river was a 10 making me think my two pair was no good. Especially since a back-door flush was possible in addition to the straight. I checked and the flop bettor checked, but an older Asian fellow bet $35.  I shrugged and made the hero call, hoping no one would raise behind me. I was just suspiciousness enough of the bettor to think I might be good. Everyone else folded and then the Asian man just mucked!  I didn't have to show my hand to claim the pot, so I didn't.

Well one of the guys who had folded asked the dealer—not me—what I had.  I think he may have missed that the other guy mucked and I didn't have to show.  So the dealer said he didn't know, but that he could ask me.  For some reason, the player was reluctant to ask me.  So instead, the dealer asked me, "Did you have a straight?"   Well that was a surprise.  Not sure it is the dealer's place to do that.  Is it?  I just shrugged. He tried again. "What did you have?"  I just said, "I didn't have to show, so I didn't." 

Somebody guessed that I had two pair.  And the player who was so curious said something about a 7.  But I couldn't tell if he was guessing that's what I had or if he was saying he had a 7 and folded (thinking I either had the top end of the straight or perhaps the flush).

I opened to $15 with Ace-King suited, only one caller.  The flop was Ace-Queen-x.  As soon as I grabbed some chips to bet, he sent his cards into the muck.

I was getting ready to call it a day.  I was up approximately $100.  Just another orbit or two and I'd be done.  So under-the-gun, I found myself holding the dreaded pocket Kings.  Gulp, I thought. There goes my day's profits.  I opened to $15.  Now having played very tight and opening UTG, you would think it might be difficult getting callers.  It was. I only got six of them!  As it went around and everyone called, the guy on my left (who had called), said something like, "I guess you figured you'd get a lot of callers, huh?"  When it got to the big blind, a guy I've played with many times before, he said, "Well you know I'm calling, how could I not?"

Pocket Kings in a 7-way pot.  What could go wrong?  The flop was Jack-Jack-8.  With so many callers, I sort of assumed someone had a Jack.  I checked, but it checked around. The turn was a low card.  Now I figured I might just have the best hand so I bet $30.  Only three players called that time.  The river was a third club.  I couldn't remember the board but it didn't look too scary except for the three clubs and the two Jacks.  I checked.  The youngest player at the table bet $60, and everyone folded back to me.

Now this guy hadn't been particularly active to this point.  And if he had made any moves, I hadn't picked up on them.  But I did kind of suspect that he was trying to steal it.  I think maybe the fact that he was relatively young played into that, I had nothing else to go on. So after tanking a bit, I made the call.  He said, "I just have 7's," and flipped over pocket 7's, unimproved.  I showed my Kings and took down a nice pot—over $300.  When I finished stacking my chips, I was sitting behind over $630.  (see below).  Well that was a nice finish to the session.  Not only did I win a big pot with the dreaded hand, I won a 7-way pot with unimproved Kings.  What are the odds of that?

I played a few more orbits, got nothing to play, and booked a $335 win.  And had a very nice drive home.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Did She Muck The Winning Hand?

I had a good session in Ventura recently, short and sweet.  The most interesting hand I witnessed didn't involve me. It left me wondering what the loser had.

Here's the situation.  It was 2/3 and I had bought in for $300, the max. I hadn't been there very long when a woman took over seat 1, which I had just vacated.  There was a raise from an older gentleman, then maybe a call, then the aforementioned lady raised to something like $120-$125.  Back to the older gentleman, who shoved.  He had over $300.  This was the lady's first hand so she still had her full $300 stack.  She snap called the shove.

Neither player showed their hands.  The flop was 9-9-8, then there was a King, and finally a Jack.  Pretty sure there was no flush possible.  The guy turned over his hand.  It was King-Jack offsuit.  Of course you shove with that, right?  Anyway, everyone kind of reacted to how the guy had played that hand and how it he lucked into runner-runner.

Meanwhile, the lady kind of froze, and sort of chuckled.  It wasn't a real laugh, it was more like, "really?"  Wasn't sure she was reacting to the way she got beat—runner-runner—or the fact that he shoved preflop with King-Jack.  But after hesitating for a few moments, she just mucked.  She didn't show her hand.

Everyone was curious as to what she had.  I sure was.  The guy on my left was too.  He said to her, "Did you have Aces?"  No, she couldn't have had Aces, I thought.  With the 9's on the board, if she had pocket Aces, she'd have the winning hand, Aces and 9's.  I'm pretty sure that's a better two pair than Kings and Jacks.

She didn't answer, she still had this sort of amused look on her face. But then she said to the dealer, with half a smile, "The King was one thing…you had to put out his second pair on the board too?"

What the hell?  To me that implies that she did have a pair that could beat Kings, and the only pair I know of that does that is Aces.  Again, if she had Aces she had the winning hand.

But what hand could she have had that made any sense—that she would go all-in with for $300?  If not Aces, then what?  Queens?—except for her comment.  She was behind on the turn when the King came, the Jack didn't matter. If she had Jacks she rivered a boat and had the best hand. She could have had Ace-King, sure. Then her comment made some sense.  The turn helped them both and then the river killed her.  But I'm thinking if she had Ace-King there, she would have showed it, just to show the bad beat. Also her comment made it seem like the King was not helpful, but survivable. Certainly not a card she was wanting to see. But maybe I'm wrong.  It's just that the way she reacted sure didn't smell like Ace-King to me.  She could have gone all-in with Ace-Queen but then the Jack on the river would have been irrelevant. 

And what was with the guy asking her if she had Aces?  Maybe he had missed the pair of 9's on the board.  Since he wasn't in the hand, I suppose that's possible.  That guy was sitting behind about $700 so he wasn't clueless.  Must have missed the pair on the board.  But I was actually thinking that the lady may have missed it too.  I seriously wondered if she folded the winning the hand.  That is a mistake that people make.  I know I've done it in the distant past myself—back when I was playing 2/4 limit.  This lady immediately rebought for $300, and then as soon as she could, she went to the 3/5 game.  But hell, even Phil Ivey mucked a flush (that was the winning hand) that time at the WSOP.  Maybe she mucked the winning hand?

I guess she had Ace-King.  It's just that the way she commented about giving him a King, it sure didn't sound like it helped her too.  And again, I think under those circumstances, she would have shown it.

As for my game, well I had to make two seat changes to get a decent hand.  My first seat was seat 1, which was in the very cramped corner of the room.  This table is so close to the wall that whenever there's a dealer change, either the player in seat 1 or seat 9 has to get up to let the dealer in. And also, the player in seat 2 or seat 8 has get up to let seat 1 or 9 up.  So it is uncomfortable.  Plus, while I wouldn't say I'm claustrophobic, it does bother me when I know I can't just get up from my seat and leave the table without asking the player next to me to get up too.

So as soon as I could, I grabbed seat 3.  The trouble with that seat is that for some reason, it was really dark in that area.  Seriously, I think there was a bank of lights out and it was a bit of a strain to see my cards.  So when the guy who was in seat 5 left, I grabbled that seat.  Much better lighting and the board was right in front of me.  Finally I was happy with my seat.

I had only moved two seats away from the button but for some reason here they insist you sit out a hand when you move.  I assume that if I had moved more than two seats away from the button, they would have made me post like they do in Vegas, but honestly I don't know.  So I waited a hand and got adjusted to my new seat.  I could tell immediately that the lighting was much, much better there and between hands I even commented aloud, "Oh wow, I'll actually be able to see my cards now."  Someone commented that maybe I'll get better cards in that seat and I responded, "Well, for all I know I've been getting decent cards and just couldn't see them. I may have gotten Aces three times and thrown them away cuz I couldn't tell."

By this time I hadn't dragged a pot, and I was down to about $220 or so from $300 buy-in.  So I looked at the very first hand I got in my new seat, and the first card I saw was a King.  And I spread the cards and saw the second card, also a King.  Pretty funny that I just joked about throwing away Aces a few seconds ago.

I was in middle position.  There was a limp, and a call.  So I made it $18.  Only four players called.  Gulp.  The flop was Queen-5-4, rainbow, a good flop for me.  It checked to me and I bet $60.  Only one player called.  It was the player who had shoved with King-Jack in that earlier hand.  So I figured he might not have a hand as good as King-Jack.  Although this was my first preflop raise, so he might have assumed I had a real premium hand.  He had me covered.

The turn paired the 4, which looked pretty safe.  I bet $100, more than half my stack. Now the guy had thought about it a bit before calling my flop bet and thought about it some more on the turn.  But call he did.

The river was a 9 and there was no flush possible. But here's where my history with the dreaded hand cost me some money.  I knew I was committed when I bet the turn.  I had less than $100 left and I was never going to fold.  So of course I should have bet the rest of my chips.  But damn, it was Kings.  And as much as I hate to admit it, I always get a little spooked with those dreaded cowboys. I wimped out and just checked, knowing I would call if he bet behind me.  Sigh.  But he checked behind and showed his hand:  King-Queen.  I flipped over my Kings and took down a nice pot.  Suddenly I was sitting behind ~$450 and I had actually made some good money with Kings.  But I knew I left money on the table as he would have of course called my shove.  I tried not to beat myself up too much for that (at least until the ride home).

A while later I got those pocket Aces I couldn't see from the other seat. I was the big blind. After a couple of limps, a guy who had me covered made it $25 and another player called.  My first thought was to make it $100 but I decided to make it a little more and put out $110.  I had forgotten that I had a $5 chip out there for the blind, so my bet was actually $115.  Don't think it mattered much.  The limpers folded instantly.  The preflop raiser tanked for a good while, made some comments that I don't remember, and finally folded.  The other guy folded too.

There was a discussion amongst the players about what I could have had.  "He had Queens."  "At least."  "He hasn't played a hand in an hour, it's better than Queens."  Of course I hadn't shown so I said, "You know, I always do that the first time I get deuce-7."  That got a good laugh.  "You would have shown that."  I laughed and agreed. "Yeah, if I had deuce-7 there, I would have turned them up.  Just for the shock value."

Then I got Ace-King of spades and there was a $6 straddle, under-the-gun (only position where it's allowed).  I made it $18 and only the straddler called.  The flop was Ace-7-7. He checked, I bet $25 and took it down.

Those were the only hands I won.  But it left me up $200 for the session. Quite acceptable.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Vegas Poker Scene—June 2019

Here's my latest column for Ante Up (or the version I submitted).  You can find it in your local poker room.  Enjoy!

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The Mirage, the popular room in the center of the Vegas Strip, runs four NLH tournaments a day.  Monday through Thursday at 11 a.m., it's a $65 buy-in with a 10K starting stack and 20-minute levels. "The Stack" runs the same time Fridays through Sundays, which is a $120 buy-in with a 25K stack and 25-minute levels.

That identical $65 tournament runs Friday through Tuesday at 2 p.m. It also runs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. The other afternoons and evenings, a $100 bounty tournament runs, with a 15K starting stack, 25-minute levels and a $25 bounty.
Nightly at 11 p.m., a $40 tourney is offered.  Players start with 5K chips and play 20-minute levels.  There are $25 rebuys available for 2,500 chips for the first three levels.  At the end of the third level, players are allowed a $25 add-on for 2,500 regardless of the size of their stack.

The Mirage is one of the few places left where you can play limit poker on the strip.  A $3-$6 game runs most of the time, with a $30 minimum buy-in.  Several tables of $1-$2 NLH are always going, with a $100 minimum, $300 maximum

Promos included Aces Cracked. The first six pairs cracked each day (starting at 8 a.m.) earn $100 each.  Progressive quads start at $100 for each rank, and increase by $25 daily until hit.  Once a rank hits, future quads of that rank earn $50.High hands of the hour run twice daily, 5 a.m. – 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.  The prize is $100 and it rolls over if it isn't hit.  A full house or better is needed to qualify. Starting at 9 a.m. daily, $100 Sit-N-Go's are offered, with two places paid.

VENETIAN:  Benjamin Ector of Las Vegas won $39K for topping a field of 450 players in the $600 Monster Stack event at Deep Stack Extravaganza II in April.  Kfir Nahum, also from Vegas, took home $34K as runner-up and Alfredo Leonidas from Southern California earned $30K for third.  The total prize pool for the $600 event was $228K.

A few days later, there was a $250 event with five starting flights.  It was taken down by Tony Gordy from Los Angeles for $37K.  Florida's Vitaly Shafran earned $24K for second and Turkey's Onur Unsal earned $17K for third.  A field of 1200 players resulted in a $244K prize pool.

The next cash game promo begins July 22 and runs through August.  Every day between noon and midnight, the high hand of the half hour will receive $600.  If, during that half hour, a player matches the high hand exactly, that player will win $1K.

WYNN: Eric Blair won the $1,100 event at the Wynn Signature Series in late April, earning $35K for his efforts.  Robert Mantin took second for $21K and Robert Cone finished third for $13K.  The total prize pool was $112K and there were 114 players.  All three players hail from Vegas.

SOUTH POINT: There's plenty of time to qualify for the $210K Summer Freeroll. Players need 120 hours of live play by July 31 to claim a seat.  The first place prize is $40K and everyone receives $120 just for qualifying.  Players receive bonuses for additional hours played.

The room spreads $1-$2 NLH, with a $100 minimum and a $300 maximum.  Equally popular is a $2-$4 limit game with a $20 minimum. Promos include high hand bonuses and the Fully Loaded Flush Fridays promo. Players who make a seven-card flush receive a progressive jackpot that starts at $500 and increases $250 each week it's not hit.
The room recently revised its tournament schedule.  Daily at 10 a.m. there's a $60 NLH tournament.  Players start with 10K chips and play 20-minute levels.  It has a $1,200 guarantee.

The 2 p.m. slot features hold'em only once a week, on Saturdays.  The "Stamina Tournament" has a $150 buy-in and a 20K starting stack.  The levels are 30-minutes.
The rest of the week that slot is filled with an $80 buy-in tournament.  Tuesdays and Thursdays the game is Omaha 8.  Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it's No Limit Crazy Pineapple.  Both tourneys feature a 10K starting stack and 20-minute levels..
On Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, the 6 p.m. offering is a $100 NLH tournament with a 10K starting stack, 20-minute levels and a $1,500 guarantee.  Wednesdays and Sundays it's a $125 Deep Stack with a 15K starting stack and 20-minute levels. The Wednesday version has a $7,500 guarantee and the guarantee on Saturday is $10K.  The Saturday night Mega Stack tournament has a $200 buy-in, with a 20K starting stack and 20-minute levels..

BALLY'S:  The main event at the WSOP circuit event in April saw over 600 players compete for a $920K prize pool.  Brooklyn's Asher Conniff took home the ring and the first place prize of $193K.  Hawaii's Joshua Suyat claimed $119K for second and Vegas resident Justin Young earned $87K for third.

GREEN VALLEY RANCH: The locals casino just started spreading a $1-$3 NLH game in addition to their $1-$2 game. The new game has a fixed $300 buy-in.  The $1-$2 game has a $100 minimum and a $300 maximum.  There are usually a couple of games of each going during regular hours.  There's always several $2-$4 limit games going too, with a $20 minimum buy-in.  This game has a half-kill. 

The newest promo in the room is Poker Pay Day. Players who play between 20-29 hours in a week receive $100.  Players who clock 30 hours or more in the same period earn $200. 

BELLAGIO:  Bellagio Cup XV runs July 6 – 14.  The main event, a five-day tournament with a $10,400 buy-in, begins July 7.  Most of the rest of the events are satellites, but there is also a $1,100 Seniors event on July 11.